Just what is Circuit Training?

By MidCoast Recreation Center, Inc | Feb 04, 2014

Circuit training is a method of resistance training, or weight training, that maximizes the volume of work done in a short period of time. Circuit training is a great tool to use for people who are interested in weight loss, muscle gain and overall strength increases.

Circuit training squashes common excuses that people use for not exercising because it takes little time, is action packed, does not need to be done everyday, and it can be personalized.      

Circuit Training Basics

Circuit training consists of performing multiple exercises on multiple body parts in a row with little rest in between exertions. The two most basic types of circuit training are horizontal training and vertical training. In horizontal training, all sets of one exercise are performed before a person moves on to the next exercise. In vertical training, one set of every different type of exercise is performed before returning to an exercise for the second time.

The amount of weight that a person lifts during a circuit training session can vary between sets. A person can start with light weights and work up to heavier weights (increasing pyramid) or can start with heavy weights and regress to lighter weights (decreasing pyramid). The most important component of circuit training is to take little rest in between sets, whether of the same or different exercises.   

Circuit Training Benefits

Due to the lack of rest that circuit training demands, exercisers maintain elevated heart rates for the entire period of exercise. The combination of weight training and increased cardiovascular effort makes circuit training a beneficial type of cross training. The exerciser gains muscle through the resistance training. The exerciser increases his/her cardiovascular endurance during the slightly elevated heart rate that is maintained in between sets and throughout the overall program.  The exerciser burns high amounts of calories during the high exertion periods of his/her sets.

Circuit training is also a convenient way to exercise.  It maximizes the total exercise volume (number of sets, repetitions, and amount of weight) completed in a period of time. Exercises are completed in a row, and therefore, the time spent exercising is condensed. Separate cardiovascular training is not necessary. All body parts are trained in one session, and therefore, exercisers do not need to work out every day.  

Long Run Benefits

Circuit training is a type of interval training. Interval training is a great way to increase the body's ability to burn calories when it is at rest. The exerciser's heart rate goes up very high, returns to a lower, but still elevated, state, and then goes up very high again. At no point during circuit training does the heart rate return to its resting rate. Circuit training, and interval training overall, increases the amount of oxygen that a person consumes post exercise, and therefore, increases the number of calories that a person burns throughout the day.  

It can be used to achieve an increase in lean body mass and a decrease in weight.  

Article written by:  Samantha Kopf a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and appears on www.fitday.com.

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